Martin Sheen Recalls How Laurence Fishburne Saved His Son Emilio Estevez from Drowning as a Teen

Laurence Fishburne was filming Apocalypse Now with Martin Sheen when he saved the life of Sheen's son, Emilio Estevez

Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Emilio Estevez
Martin Sheen; Laurence Fishburne; Emilio Estevez . Photo: Todd Williamson/Getty; Robin L Marshall/FilmMagic; Taylor Hill/Getty

Martin Sheen's gratitude toward Laurence Fishburne knows no bounds.

On Monday, the 80-year-old actor appeared on Daily Blast Live where he spoke about how Fishburne saved his son Emilio Estevez's from drowning. At the time, Estevez was visiting his dad on the set of the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, which Sheen was filming alongside Fishburne.

"We didn't know about it until about 30 years later. Emilio never mentioned it, but yeah it's true," Sheen said. "I think Emilio was about 12 or 13, and Larry was 14."

"They became fast friends and they were out in the boat one day and the boat got stuck, and Emilio got out of the boat to clear the area and he began to sink into the mud," Sheen said, adding Emilio "went under, and Larry very quickly moved and pulled him on board."

The actor said he "called Laurence and said, 'Thank you, I appreciate you saving our son's life.'"

In 2012, Sheen spoke about the incident during a panel discussion at the Hudson Union Society alongside Estevez, where he said his son's near-drowning took place the first day the father-son duo arrived in the Philippines to begin shooting the film.

"He never mentioned it, nor did Laurence. This knowledge had never, ever been known to us," Sheen said at the time. "But he pulled him out from a lake… I need to thank Laurence for that because it was a very good thing to do and it grew to be very profitable as well."

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While the film changed Sheen's life, it also had a huge impact on Fishburne. In 2018, Fishburne told the Associated Press starring in Apocalypse Now transformed his career.

"That movie was really the beginning of me thinking of myself as an artist," he said. "It was the beginning of my understanding of cinema, it was the beginning of my understanding of the world, because I was suddenly taken out of Brooklyn and I was in the Philippines in the middle of Asia."

"I was in a place where most of the people looked like me, so it opened up a whole world of possibilities. My work with Francis on 'Apocalypse Now' and all the films I did afterward with him really shaped me and formed me as an artist."

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